Several of you have asked if we will fix how we show sort order in the Inbox and other views.
I had a meeting today with the Mail interaction designer (Margo Ezekiel), and two developers to discuss how we plan to show sort order in the "Hannover" release. In general, one of our "rules of thumb" is that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Is the current method of displaying sort order broken? Some would say no, others would say yes.
Here is the situation that causes the most consternation. A user such as Samantha clicks to sort her inbox by date, and she sees that she is sorting it in descending order.
So, she thinks, "I want to sort is in ascending order now", and clicks that little downarrow in the Date column header and she expects the solid triangle to point up, and the mail messages to be sorted in ascending order. Instead, when she clicks, she gets this:
"Hum," she says to herself, "The little arrow still points down. But it's not filled in. None of the little arrows are filled in. So how is it being sorted?And how can I get it to sort in ascending order by date?" She looks closer and it seems to her that it IS sorted ascending by date ... are the column headings lying to her?
THE ANSWER (I think). The Date column can be sorted descending or use the "default" order, which in this case is the order in which the mail messages arrived (Oddly enough, in this case, I think, most of the time, that equates to ascending, which might add to the confusion). So, I think that in my example above, the "Date" column is still the one that's being "sorted", except that the sort order is the "default order", which is not necessarily a "sort order", it's just an "order".
Samantha, however, just wants to find the blasted email from Ted about how she needs to make end-cap displays of toilets appeal to homeowners so that they sell all the overstock toilets that they have. Thus, she has neither the time nor the inclination to figure out email sort order. She just needs to find that mail, or her career is, almost literally, in the toilet.
Now, strictly speaking, any user of Domino Designer could fix all this confusion by going to the following box and selecting "both."
When I discovered this, I ran gleefully to the cafeteria in search of the dude who owns the mail template (it was lunchtime), to get him to pick "both." Ha. It appears that turning on "both" to sort ascending and descending is a big impact to performance and increases the size of the mail file because it creates a separate index. (I might not have this entirely right, so don't quote me.) The bottom line is, from a developer's standpoint, there is a perfectly logical reason why we don't allow ascending and descending sorting. From a developer's standpoint, it's also perfectly logical that if none of the little arrows are filled in, then the view must be using the "default sort."
But the majority of our users are NOT developers. So what should we do for the Hannover release?
I doubt very highly that we can make the changes so that it does not impact performance and mail size. Do we just continue the way Notes 7 shows sort order (or not)? Do we highlight the "sorted" column, even if the sort "order" is "the default order", and then display some other graphic that is neither an up or down arrow? (in addition to or instead of the v to mean that "this is a sortable column"??)
Our current plan is to indicate the column being "sorted by" with a highlight as shown below, and to indicate the sort order (if any) with an arrow. We do not plan to show the little v to indicate if a column is sortable. We thinks this produces less visual clutter and has the potential for less confusion.
I look forward to your comments. :)